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Horror Short Feature at Harper House

By Tom Neas

HICKORY – Something spooky happened at Harper House on Wednesday and Thursday – filming for a horror film.

The film’s director, Wyatt Michael, wrote and produced the 50-minute film, titled “The Goblin.” Michael hopes to submit it to film festivals, such as Sundance and Cannes, with further hopes to draw big name producers in order to make a feature-length version.

“(Filming) is going well,” Michael said. “It is a very difficult thing. I am finding it to be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.”

Michael explained the difficulty further, referencing an alternative album he recorded and novels he wrote.

“The Goblin” is Michael’s first film project of such scope, but he previously has worked on shorter films.

Set in the 1920s, the film focuses on a young child whose heroin-addicted, abusive mother locks him in his room. The titular goblin comes out of the child’s closet at night. However, Michael did not want to explain further, not wanting to spoil his story.

“I have been going over it for the past year in my mind. I’m psychologically prepared,” Michael said. “It’s difficult to shoot, because it is a period piece.”

Executive director Amber Clawson of the Historical Association of Catawba County said several other groups had filmed at the site before, but never a horror film.

“I never thought that I would work with a horror film,” Clawson said. “That has been rather startling, when we are about our daily work and someone in costume walks by.”

The groups that usually film on site are PBS or documentary filmmakers, focusing on the site’s history. Clawson said “The Goblin” would be the first narrative film shot at the home.

“It’s been very good. They came prepared, because they had such a tight schedule,” Clawson said. “They really wanted to maximize their efficiency their time here.”

Groups wishing to film at the Harper House must follow rules to make sure the house is preserved, Clawson said. These rules include a prohibition on open flames and on the use of tape.

“I think it will be good for Harper House and for Hickory,” Clawson said. “It is helpful to us as a nonprofit to have them here. It helps to pay for the upkeep.”

Describing the style of the 1887 home as “over the top,” Clawson said might have been what drew Michael to the location.

“It’s exquisite. In every room of the house you can film with great lighting,” said Michael about the House. “It’s rare to find a place like it.”

Michael’s crew also is filming on locations in Carthage and on a set in Concord.

“I wish I had more time here, but it’s just not possible,” Michael said. “I am very gracious to the Harper House for being so considerate and helpful.”